A 21-year-old single mother is seeking for medical assistance after her one year and 11 months old baby boy from Meru County, was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma commonly known as eye cancer.
According to Winnie Mukami, the mother to the boy, Dylan Munene, her son was diagnosed with retinoblastoma when he was seven months old at Kikuyu PCEA Hospital.
Mukami told us that she was advised by the doctors that his left eye needs to be removed failure to which she could lose her son.
“I could not accept that my son was suffering from a life threatening disease, I thought it was a mistake at first but on travelling back home I decided to seek a second opinion,” she said.
She decided to seek medical clarification elsewhere and she took her son to Meru Teaching and Referral hospital where Doctors confirmed that it was true her son had eye cancer.
The Mother said that after a scan was done on her son the doctors decided to carry out a surgery so as to remove the infected eye and the surgery was successful.
“I was happy at least the storm was over, however I would attend follow up clinics to monitor the progress of my son,” she said.
After two months, she took back her son for a medical clinic at Meru Hospital where doctors informed her that even the other eye had been infected and had three tumors and was advised to take her son to Kenyatta National Hospital immediately.
“Things were becoming very tough for my family, we were living in Nanyuki town with Munene’s father but he left us so I had to go back to my mother’s house,” she said, adding that she depends on her mother who does casual work to earn a living.
Mukami told us that her son, Munene was put on Chemotherapy and the tumour started disappearing though she says that her son is intended to continue with treatment so that the tumour can disappear completely.
Her appeal is to well-wishers to assist her see her son undergo all the required chemotherapy treatment as she is a single mother and she does not have any source of income.
“Finding a job is tough as no one would like to employ me because I have to take my son to the clinic after every eighteen days,” she said adding every visit she has to purchase medicine at a cost of sh.8000 which the child takes for three weeks and the process is continuous.
She said that for the time she has been taking her son to KNH it has been through the financial help of her mother but now the financial burden has hit the family.
“Travelling to and fro Nairobi every eighteen days is cumbersome, at times getting a bed at the Kenyatta National Hospital is tricky hence you have to spend several days as you wait, you need basic needs such as food, shelter, pampers for the child,” she said, adding that it is really draining both emotionally and financially.
Mukami also appeals to both National and Meru County governments to ensure that there are drugs and Chemotherapy services for babies at Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital, saying that this will reduce the cost of treatment as one will not need to travel all the way to Nairobi to seek chemotherapy for her or his child.
“I get psychosocial support from Meru Hospice, I was introduced to social support groups, we often share our experiences and at least we are able to cope better with the challenges facing our families,” she says.
Mukami’s sentiments were also echoed by Gladys Mucee, the Meru Hospice Co-coordinator who said that there was need for the Meru county government to ensure that there are chemotherapy services for children at Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital.
“It is unfortunate that we have no pediatric ward to cater for children suffering from cancer, we need to stock cancer drugs not only for adults but also for children,” she said, adding that parents seeking for cancer drugs or chemotherapies for their children have to go all the way to Kenyatta National Hospital.
Mucee said so many people are suffering in seeking cancer treatment as it is expensive. She said though at Meru Hospice they take care of cancer patients, they too are being faced by challenges as the Hospice has no donor.
“We have over 600 cancer patients in Meru county whom the hospice takes care of but we are aware there are many patients out there, our resources are limited, we have no donor currently,” she said.
She called on government and intellectuals to do thorough research on causes and cure for the cancer which has become a menace not only in Meru but in the country at large.
“We also call on the government to declare cancer disease a national disaster just like HIV so that cancer patients can access drugs for free at any general hospital,” she said.
She cautioned farmers against excessive use of pesticides on food crops, citing consumption of chemicals may be attributing to rise in cancer infections.
Mucee has called on well-wishers to chip in and assist the boy get all the chemotherapy treatment so that he can continue with his normal life.
In addition, she called on members of the community to go for early cancer screening so that they can know their status.
“It’s unfortunate that many patients whom we receive are either in stage three or four of the disease, if the disease was detected early it can be managed,” she said
By Muguongo Judy